Personal Blog

I have been carrying a bit of stress in my body as of late and I had a breakthrough whilst looking at this Church, out this beautiful window and over this beautiful city.

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Stress? Some of it is work. The business is strong. My team is awesome. Yet we are always thread bare, cash-strapped and rebounding. The tech industry is constantly shifting and the only thing constant is disruption. It gives me heartburn. Then there is the burden of dreaming. My dad was completely happy (or so he said he was) to sit in our small town of Blackstone for the entirety of his life. Travels were interesting but never a passion and he CERTAINLY never considered uprooting and living elsewhere. My mom- well she was just happy. If she was around her kids, her grandkids, she was happy. Me? Definitely happy. Blissful… but restless though.  It causes stress.IMAG2226

When I slow down like I did today these weird, weird things called FACTS (they DO exist!), sink in and the reality that sets in quite is wonderful. Granted it is far less dramatic and terrorizing and fanciful, but it is WONDERFUL.

My facts. If all hell broke lose, my (very loyal and awesome customers and team bailed) and if the housing markets in two countries failed and we were broke, and if my health failed, and if Chris’ health failed, and if my friends stopped loving me and if my family stopped loving me- yeah, if ALL OF THAT implausible was possible, I’d still be married to Chris. I should fear nothing because I have everything. I have everything because I have my life’s true love.

Today was simple. We didn’t do much. We walked. I dipped my feet in the chilly ocean. We meandered. I read. I fell in love again… and it was perfect, because I realize that no matter what comes next, I have #mryummy by my side.

#uncleRandy

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Have you met the razor-blade fairy? They (sic) is wonderful. This may not look like much to you or seem like a bit deal, but to me it is magic. It is wonderful. It’s simply amazing. It represents the fact that I may never ever have to wonder if the razor is sharp. It just “happens!” Out of nowhere the blade fairy changes them out. Me? I just get to grab the blade without thought or pause and scrape away. Et, Voila! Where they come from, how they get there, where to they go when changed; these ruminations needed me not as they are the problems of the others. I married up. I appreciate it and know it and at this point am glad I get to live without this type of detail attention.

Chris and I wonder if I am not in a state of negative reincarnation. No, not that I’m a terrible person today (a bit narciSissy, yes) and I’ll come back as a worse one or a bug in the next life, but that perhaps in the past I was high-born, royalty, a monarch, nobility, part of the ruling class and those “needs” (entitlements) are somewhat still in me. I’ll admit it- I love being taken care of. I love other people being in line and getting to skip it. Waiting is for them!  (We’ll that is just $85 dollars and TSA Pre-check, but let a sissy dream). Today, vacation-day 12- I’m going to embrace my inner aristocrat. Husband! Fetch me a pastry! [Footnote: I’m SCREWED if he sees this prior to his imminent departure and luckily he doesn’t get cell or WiFi on his device once outside the condo.] I am a puffer fish.

Day 10: Friday – I slept in. Work needed a little attention and I am getting the meat sweats. I do not do this much at home (sleep in), but Friday I was able to stay in and stay quiet. The condo we rented through AirB&B has a sleepy view of the main Church here in Cadaquez and a soft breeze. It seems to me that it would be an easy thing for me to do back home- find a cafe or spot where I can sit for a bit and read, chill and reflect. Seems simple, actionable and available. I’ll give it a try.  Later that night we dined at Compartir – a restaurant we enjoyed four years ago on our first trip here. We were seated at the same table at which I was able to have an amazing meal and witness the wonder of my attentive hubby.

A bit into the dining experience a puzzled look came across his face. He looked around a bit and the stated – “I seem to remember a well being in this room over there, do you?” Candidly, I did not. I had no reason to doubt him, but it seemed odd – a well inside a restaurant? A few minutes later he popped out with “I’m right” (he genuinely always is)- and pointed up along the wall to the ceiling. A pulley and winch system remained behind and when we (he) asked in sweet broken Spanish (what the hell is the word for well!?) about said well, the staff confirmed that it has been covered up, that the part of the building we were in was built up around the well and was originally a courtyard.

Earlier in the day we stopped at a local grocery store. They have wines by the barrel and you can pour your own- so we did. A bit of vermouth that is lovely with a touch of lime and ice- perfect for a pre-siesta slumber. We’ll have to do that for the next week. I may need to implement that policy at work.

Day 11 of 17 – Saturday – The celebration of Bliss!

We were up early and off to Ceret, France. Saturday market drifting is one of the passions of our life. It is this ability to just get up and go somewhere like this that is drawing out the wanna-be expat in me.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g196603-d6957113-Reviews-Sunday_Street_Market-Ceret_Pyrenees_Orientales_Occitanie.html

This market is amazing. We could live in Ceret- and (shocker alert!) we talked to a chocolatier about life in the region. He (an expat from London) and his wife (expat from Belgium) have moved to a nearby village that was the Catalan center of Cocoa trade. They have a cottage industry business of artisan chocolates. We had to sample a few. He told stories of housing in the smaller villages that cost less than 100k for a multifamily home. Dreams of my real estate empire have begun anew. More amazing that all of this was the wonder in Chris’ eyes as he explored each stall, slowly and attentively. It’s his job to explore, my job to adore. We wondered our way back via the coast and came back to Cadaquez for a lunch of gathered items from the market. Yeah, Jamon – a big chuck of it, we now own a made-in-france farmer’s knife (with a built in cork screw!) cheese, bread and dried fruit.

A word of warning. If you have spent two weeks jamming yourself full of meat, especially dried ham and cheese, suddenly adding anything that looks like a vegetable (let alone a piece of dried fruit) could have consequences unexpected.

I’m kinda done with Jamon for a while. Meh… probably just until lunch which is sadly FOUR HOURS away!!

After siesta we rallied for dinner at La Serena. http://www.restaurantelasirena.com They had this magical thing called a salad. It is this appetizer that has vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and onions. It was a welcomed start given that most of the veggies I’ve had in two weeks have been olives stuffed with anchovies or Jamon or both. My fussy tummy was settled by a pre-dinner cocktail of Pastis (one more reason to love France) and filled to the bursting point with a fish stew. Ok, fish stew is a misnomer. This was bouillabaisse heaven with razor clams, mussels, langoustine, two types of fish and gambas (shrimp)- all local, all incredible.  The Spanish do these and Paella with at least two persons for the portion.

During the dinner I revealed the Facebook post to Chris where many of our family and friends posted things that we love about Chris. It was a super sweet cap-stone to the “50 moments of Chris bliss” only outstepped by how into us and our reaction to the meal we were having that the staff was. They seems generally delighted that we enjoyed the complex flavors of the stew, that we ate slowly with intention and that we explored the nuances of the various tastes with bits and sips of bread and wine. A blessed life is only as far away as a good meal eaten with intention. We live many blessed lives!

Four years ago Chris succumbed to the expat virus at Cafe De La Habana. The owner at La Serena suggested we night-cap at this Cafe. A local Spaniard and his French wife run this bar where he strums his classic guitar to a mix if sleepy ballads and quirky covers of modern hits. She serves up drinks governed only by the glance at the boooze-level in the glass and a whim. Back then we left with a CD and through the interim years we visit that CD to resurrect some of most pleasant travel memories we have. It is better live. Travel to Cadaques and see for yourself.  Just don’t go in the summer. We have been told it is crowed and can take up to three hours to get into town down the 8 kilometer winding road into town. More reasons we enjoy early Spring or early Fall travel- the offseason- this is spot on for us.

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We strolled up the hill to our “home” in Cadaqez with more talk of working the company plans from abroad, learning Spanish and challenging ourselves to embrace the unknown. Back at the house I found yet another magical fairy. The sparkling water fairy had visited and there bedside was a glass ready to accompany me to a restful slumber dreaming of endless Jamon Iberico. Yummy indeed.

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#uncleRandy

You have entered the drone zone. NO, not me. You chose to click – so read on about the sadness that is death of a selfie drone.  Spoiler alert! All I managed is to get a picture of my crotch. It’s nothing special- the drone I mean. Actually, it’s in the trash. What a waste!

Wanted: working, quality selfie drone for under $65 dollars.

Day 6 – last Monday: Palmer to Soller. Another spoiler alert: we could live here.

Sóller- https://www.abc-mallorca.com/soller/  We took a sweet touristy and retro train over to Soller. Another surprise? I had jamon. It’s four days since this short trip, two cities later and I am seriously starting to smell like Jamon fat. I might have licked my own arm. Maybe I did that. That evening after siesta (which for me seems to be another work for Gin & Tonic) we walked our way up to the Mercat San Juan. Chris was Chris- which means he did all the foot fetching and purchasing while I nursed my sad and tired marathon legs.

Day 7 – Bye Bye Palma – Hello Sitges. Another spoiler alert: we could live here.

Sitges – http://www.visitsitges.com/en/ . In the event food at American airports was as good as the crappiest of foods at Spanish airports we’ve been in, American fliers might not be nearly as pissed off. This might be because I had (wait for it…) Jamon Iberico. After a short flight to Barcelona and picking up the rental, we made our way to our host house in Sitges. The pool was terrible as noted in an earlier post, but luckily our host (a fabulous queen from Budapest) greeted us with a bottle of cava. This day- Tuesday- marked the death of the drone. It would be three full days until (today) I actually gave up and burried it.

Day 8 – The Thunder and Lightening of Sitges. We started looking at property.

Sitges continued. Don’t get me wrong, I love California. But after suffering through two days in the pouring rain in Sitges (which is rare) and compensating by journling, reading, eating (Jamon) and drinking (water, agua con gas actually) – we could live here. We popped into a gay bar as Sitges is the gay get-away coast for the Catalonia queers and their friends. I picked up a hot guy pictured here. Score 1 for 21 years of bliss! Sitges is cute, touristy and only a 30 minute train ride from Barcelona. They also have a very, very healthy pintxos culture, which makes me happy. Yes, I had Jamon and Chris had a tortilla (the Spanish kind). More about the “pinchos” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pincho

Day 9 – Terragona and Cataques. Spoiler ALERT! We could live there / here.

Tarragona: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarragona . Yes, Yes, it rained AND we could live there. We are actually not that unique in this as people have been living on this crappy spot for like 4,000 years. More, actually. I saw the largest intact Roman aqueduct that I’ve seen ever. And it is just right by the freeway. Their ancient colosseum is by the sea and still used today. A very smart woman suggested we go (thanks Mrs Martin Scanlon). Bla, bla, bla..a medieval church build on the same grounds that has been a holy site for cultures for thousands of years, cobble stone streets, Jamon, wine, cervezas, Jamon, pictures, jamon- Spain is so f’ing redundant. Where the hell is the taco bell! Or a f’ing Dunkin Donuts for Christ Sakes!  All joking aside- yeah, that was a joke – even a brief walk in this ancient historical city was a history-buff’s dream and I could spend years here studying and eating Jamon. For sure I will spend years eating Jamon.
Cadaqués One of the jewels of the Costa Brava and Spoiler Alert!  We CANT live here. It’s too f’ing expensive and there is about .000001 % property availability.  wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadaqués
This part of the trip is the big dance for us. A few years ago Chris cheated on me with this city. He’d pop out of bed early and head out the door to explore, wander, take pictures, soak in the sights and sounds and (luckily) return with a cafe and chocolate croissant. That was back when I ate the evil satan-influenced gluten. Little has changed since we were here last except for the occasional whiff of marajuana and the calls and signs supporting Catalan independence from Spain. Today (Friday) I slept in, did some work I promised for my team and did a ton or reading. Oh, and laundry. The mystery of European all-in-one washers lessened a bit today because the condo we are in was furnished by Ikea and I could google the unit and learn WTF to do.
This time next week we are headed home. I miss it and I miss and love it enough to say I want to go back. Tomorrow we day trip to France. Therein is one of the primary reasons we MUST live in Europe at some point. Given we are not having babies or raising anything other than back-hair and kitty cats, we have the option to live in another culture. More than anything else- jamon and VERY inexpensive (tasty) wine options aside, that is what has me itching for a bold move abroad.IMAG2226

XOX

#uncleRandy

Those close to me know that the last three months in prep for this marathon have been dark. I have a had an injury that has stopped me from training according to the grand plan I’ve followed for the last 20 marathons. I have been debating in my head and out loud whether or not I would even do it or if that my days of marathoning are over.

The lovely conflation of my own aging and working too much have created a perfect storm of excuses to bail, fail or wail. Ask my husband, it hasn’t been pretty.

Do you find yourself in a space of self doubt like this? I have no rational reason to doubt myself like this- heck, the worst case scenario is I would have taken a 6-hour walk around one of the most amazing cities on the planet and finished in the company of the man of my dreams. I live a blessed life. This marathon smacked me a bit to adjust the balance.  Shit happens to everyone. My work industry is disruptive- it will always be in a constant state of chaos. While special, I’m not “exempt-from-crap” special. So the balance adjustment… Sure, I will get stressed. I have to stop having that stress control me by having the balance of those things that are positive (and vastly more frequent) be my focus. In the event you see me acting as though the rain cloud hovers over just me, call me out.

So back to this marathon. Stunning. It completely thrashed my foot. Dig into my facebook posts if you want to see evidence and a video of me popping one of FOUR nasty blisters.

Enjoy this snapshot, and NO- I didn’t take a picture of the inner thighs. I’m a narcisSissy- blogger, but not THAT much the narcissist.   IMAG2184Five days later and my chaffed crotch has turned crusty and itchy (yeah, TMI). I’ve stopped bleeding when walking.  But I did it! No real training. No base of miles. I pushed myself for 4 hours and 38 minutes and ran -walked-shuffled 26.2 miles. The impossible was possible. I also met a guy doing his 700th and another guy doing his 200th marathon. I’m not a slacker at 21 of these… but jeepers creepers that’s amazing.

There are other places in my life where this thinking (with this logic) can be challenged. I love that vacation pulls this out of me. I am also digging that the cycles of integration have become shorter. Years ago I might have an insight that would often fade as I get back to my “normal” world. I have though about why this is so. I have an amazing partner. My team is strong. My business partners are loyal and supportive. I am skilled. Today I get to think and leap: I have people who catch me every time.

I ruminate sometimes that I / we are much less than a speck- a bug in a vast pile of bugs. At times I even feel like this bug trapped under a glass. But let me tell you about this bug. This little bastard was tossed out of the house 4-5 times into the rain only to find its way back into the house. And why not? It was a nice house. Warm. Dry. Well lit.  His persistence paid off. By the time I was ready to squish it, it stopped raining and he flew off on his merry way. I’m going to embrace being that persistent bug. Don’t squish me.

I am not trapped.

Help!!

OK, so while the run was “awesome” – stunning, well supported and completed- what is more awesome is that through grit, hard work, some luck and lots of love, I am able to take this time to reflect and plan for the 22nd marathon, the continued adventures of life and reflect on the blessings in my life. Many of you who glance at this are part of that crew, so thank you. Thank You.  THANK YOU!

#uncleRandy

For those of my friends and family and associates that have posted “Me Too” as your status or update, I am so sorry for the harm done to you. I will do what I can to educate other men and if my learned and inherent sexism has ever resulted in actions of mine that made you uncomfortable, I am truly sorry. Educate me. I can learn to be a better man in support of you as a woman

For the MANY of my men friends who have posted in this topic or commented, I both thank you and caution you. This is not a strength of mine, but I have found that a better response in this situation is less man-splaining (man explaining) and more ACTIVE listening. Here is a great resource as well – http://www.mencanstoprape.org/

Men Can Stop Rape: I met these folks in 1992 when a friend and I invited them to speak at Catholic University as undergrads. It was one of the first times in my life that a black man and a white gay man spoke to me in a way that challenged everything I assumed and everything I had learned or inherited. It was a gateway to my own coming out and a gateway to the life-long journey to learn by listening. Especially to the experience of the “other.” These others – a Black man with a Doctorate (the first one I had ever met in my life) and a gay man who had moved beyond coming out to a space of doing something for others from his position as “another other” – changed my gestalt.

I am saying something because of the debate I have seen around whether or not there is a merger of sexual assault (severe) with unwanted sexual advances (less severe, but horrid). I would suggest to my men friends that while there is a difference, there is no need to parse these when a woman posts “Me Too.” It is their experience to define, our job to listen and learn. They have been hurt by men. Our job is to train other men, learn and speak up when boundaries are crossed. There is (generally speaking) no need to stack hurt in a hierarchy of pain. Injuries to women by men in any form hurt us all, so I would prefer we work towards solutions women desire. We only get their by the women in our worlds guiding us. So to my women friends, I say it again- help me learn from errors I made yesterday and errors I make today and with your help and some humility, I’ll make fewer errors moving forward.

Humbly yours #unclerandy

 

Announcing, 2 Bedroom Condo, 2 bath, 2 cats, 2 cars and 2 fidgeting queens ready to rent a fully furnished condo with a large deck and peek-a-boo bay view in Emeryville, CA.  Bay Area rent will fetch us $3500 – $4200 (furnished). Wine and booze (lots of it) included.

Ok, MAYBE I’m being dramatic. We adore our life in the Bay Area.  More importantly our chosen family (mostly) is there. There is still a solid list of things that draw us there and keep us put. If all we ever do is live there and bitch about it while we are elsewhere, we’ll have one of the bestsellers ever written.  However, Palma is magical. And for less than half of what we could rent our place out for in California we could get access to this shit-hole of a 3 bed, 2 bath, pool and gardens dump-of-a-place outside Palma. https://www.kyero.com/en/property/4534016-town-house-long-let-biniali

Oh, and did I mention I own an internet-based company.  Oh, and we have no kids that we have to worry about the disruption this would cause. Yeah, and our good family and friends would visit us.  Meahwhile Chris found yet another AirBnB dump.

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At cafe today we created a pro-con list of what it takes to live in the Bay Area and what like and dislike about the Bay Area. The positives still vastly outpace the detractors, but we are surprised by a number of the things that once made Northern California feel like the place to be ceased to be. WTF does that mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe that in year when we take another stunning vacation I’ll revisit these same damned questions.  OR maybe that because we have definitively concluded that being parents is off the list, we can now pivot to creating adventure.

Today has been stunning. I do wish this Cathedral wasn’t so ugly.  The dude who created this worked with some slacker of an architect, Gaudy or Gaudí or Garish – I dunno, AND apparently he pledge to build this if the Virgin Mary helped him win some war.  She must be pissed. IMAG2132Outside this dump we found a local Mercat that allowed shoppers to give the fish they purchase to another shop that would quickly prepare the food provided you buy a drink and eat it there. Yeah, we suffered through that first with a fist-full of Gambas (shrimp) only to follow that with a stop at a Cheese and Jamon purveyor that offers sampling items. The temperature was so precisely right that the fat from the Jamon leg was dripping ever so slightly that under the leg of love pooled a small amount of glistening joy.  I wish they made Jamon soap, Jamon hair jell, Jamon body conditioner. Hell, I’d even use Jamom oil as…. eeh, never mind. I am now scraching my head to find a place in our world where a farmer’s / fish market would let us do this.

I chose a quiet afternoon in after a brilliant long walk this AM. I’m hydrating, stretching and going to nap so that tomorrow when I’m crushing the limp-along marathon I will at least be well rested.  Until then, #unclerandy out.

Friday started with a slow and sweet wrap up to our short time in Mahon. The island is sweet and stunning and win the off-season takes on a particular charm. It’s a small island so I think it would spit me out before too long.  This is possible the first time I’ve been to a Spanish tourist location where I have felt it would be better to be traveling during the busy season.  Alternatively coming here in the dead of their (mild) winter might make for a great location to catch up on reading, thinking and practicing Spanish.

We are off to Palma to register for the marathon, check into our next place and address the logistic of the race. Chris has again planned this to a perfect rhythm. Our pace has slowed and our appetites are up. We’ve been walking about 5-7 miles a day and its been great.  Wine is cheaper than water here, so we are adjusting our consumption appropriately.

I did have a shocking realization. I prefer a life a leisure. Yep, there it is. While I am not lazy it occurs to me the I am a better version of me when relaxed. Vacation pulls out grand ideas of art, writing, discoveries, travel, adventure and exploring both the interior of my mind and the expanse of the cultures of the world. I need a benefactor. I’ll take applications or references should you be called to this. I would chase the great foods of Spain and the deep thoughts of a restless and middle-aged Chobbit (chubby Hobbit).

Work yanked me in a bit abruptly. I customer sent a message that read quite shitty and almost an ultimatum. Those go over really well with me. My team and I all concluded that this customer was off- so I responded with a gentle challenge and called them out a bit. This was a risk, but one we / I thought worth taking. Their response was good, but it was clear that either we all mis-read or that she over stated, or perhaps a combination of both. What strikes me about this (especially as we are exploring other cultures) is how much is lost in translation or open to (mis) interpretation.  I have always been acutely aware of the “receiver effect” -that I perceive things through my own filter- so this interaction reminds me that very often our current form of “social” communication breaks connections rather than creating them. I am aware of how this has happened in the world of Facebook yet is was a striking instance to see it in business. The abrupt yank  into the intersection of intention and meaning intrigues me. If you have any articles or thoughts on this- message me. If I have ever misinterpreted your intentions or words and you need to explore that, ping me. I still love to learn. Maybe my future benefactor would like me to explore this more.

Some background on the pictures.  I’m getting more selfie and less F-OFF by leaving the hello kitty stick and the drone at bay. I may need some alone time with them as I’m enjoying the #MrYummy time rather than #badMrYummy.

We stopped at the local market (mercat) and had an amazing tasking of Jamon Ibericao and Spanish cheeses. After washing that down with beer and wine (don’t judge, the glasses are small)- we went and registered for the marathon.  I was able to stand on the winners podium too. Hey, a chobbit can dream.