Covid Lessons – Chapter 4

Chapter 4- Covid Lessons

Fuck You Covid

I’m changing my “Thank you, Covid” tune of the other day. I’m done with you. I sure hope you are done with me.

Having done absolutely no research or reading on the matter and having had the fully sucky version of Covid, I’m now an expert.  No questions asked. My facts are THE facts. Sure, my symptoms are waning – the fatigue is less, the phlegm kept to a trickle by Mucinex and the aches abated by Advil- so it is now time to break the love-hate relationship with Covid & lean into the disdain of Covid Times. The relationship had felt ambiguous because I had avoided you, Covid – but now that we are sleeping together – you suck. You suck in bed – you suck at everything. 

Sure, there have been things I’ve loved about these past two years. There are many, many things I’ve done and loved during covid times, covid.  But that’s me. That is due to the people and places I’ve enjoyed them with. That’s because of Chris. It has nothing to do with you, Covid. Yeah,- Covid. Fuck You. I hate you. Thanks, Covid? Thanks for nothing. You are like a viral contagion that messes things up. Yep, just exactly like that.

Accentuate the positive? Sure, we all (mostly) believe that in these times of political contention and social media cesspooling that it is key to our collective mental health that we find the positive in all things. We are to drop the ego and focus on the now, to embrace the joy and not fletch and fire a second arrow of anger caused by covid. I’ve just spent the better part of 5 day bed-bound – two of which were highlighted by joint pain throughout my body and night sweats that got my head spinning. Literally, I’m still having dizzy spells throughout the day. Thanks, Covid – you asshole. The only thing positive about you is that there is an anti viral. Quit mutating you fickle SOB.

Fine. I suspect you will come back or stick around- but for now, I wanted to be clear about why you should go fuck yourself. Here is a list, Covid – now fuck off:

  • The way you confused my coffee shop with taped arrows on the floor that made no sense, and then suddenly you were gone ish – but people still glare at the random people laughing maskless. Without the arrows, I became confused again about where to stand and wait. Stay or go. Quit your waffling. You give waffles a bad name.
  • Social Distancing – you meant that, didn’t you? Extroverts should line up and sucker punch your receptor-specked face all day. It’s PHYSICAL distancing, you jackass. You and your introverts coup d’etat – if you wanted to go off and do quiet time, you didn’t have to drag the entire global population with you. You do you. Just stop doing us harm, you POS.
  • Here’s a list in a list -just so you get the point -Fuck you, because:
    • The way you made joggers – outside – ALONE – think we had to wear a mask.
    • For the way you turned the nice neighbor who cared about the community plants into a total jerk – barking at people because they were not being covid careful enough.
    • Hand sanitizer containers were everywhere, but ½ of them were empty or smelled like crappy tequila.
    • You are killing public transportation – hurting the people who depend on it and threatening one of the easiest ways to improve our climate.
    • Standing in line at a drugstore?  Yeah, no thanks.
    • Trader Joe’s in the lockdown days?  It was like the Hunger Games trying to get my lavender salt scrub.
    • Hugs. They used to be casual, not consensual potential viral exchanges based on mitigating factors of risk. You are like negotiating gay sex in the 90s without the gay sex. Boring. I miss my casual hugs.
    • No smell? No taste?  What is a foodie to do because of you?  Are you aware of what you did to the restaurant, food, and wine industries? 
    • Toilet paper. You are shit and cause shit storms.
    • Handshakes. Ok, you can have them. They kinda grossed me out. I mean,… I know where I put my hands.
    • Toddlers in masks? You should be ashamed of yourself. Children’s smiles and laughter are liquid sunshine you systemic storm cloud of stupid.
    • Supply Chain- you figure it out. No one else seems to be able to.
    • You stoke race-baiting and amplify political differences among the sheeple people and the people people.
  • Concerts?  Ever heard of them?
  • Chilaquiles at the Farmer’s Market – yeah, you crushed that dream too. You are like a yappy chihuahua or the homeless guy who smells of urine and feces next to a food truck. Line ’em up!
  • Meeting a stranger at dinner – bar seating- and sharing stories of travel. Remember what that was like? Yeah, me either you prick.
  • Travel.  We WERE the people that did an epic trip yearly to, well… ANYWHERE… and we didn’t have kids so we could go big on travel and not stay home. Now we get to die without any offspring to wipe our butts and we don’t explore hidden Europe.
  • PPE shortages and what you did to the medical community? Someone needs to assist your suicide.
  • Diverting global resources to deal with you rather than dealing with equity, poverty, climate change, and reparations. You are a conniving Mother F’er.
  • Hotels – yeah, you made that a lot of fun. I’d call you a douchebag, but that would be insulting to douchebags.

For all the reasons above, beyond, and before you that drive us crazy and apart, you suck. Before you? Sure- I’m going to blame you, Covid, for crappy stuff that had nothing to do with you.  AIDS is your fault.  Trump – you did that. Gun violence?  You too, boo.  You shoot babies in school. Why NOT blame you? You get credit for good things you had ZERO- NADA – ZILCH-  to do with, like increases in community gardening or hiking. DoorDash- not you. Pets. . You are getting credit for more pets.  Screw you- those animals were already there. 

You are a racist.  Seriously, Covid – you are prejudiced and bigoted.  You amplify disparities in class. You disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Your treatments are baselined against a white-centered medical system and thereby less effective in the communities that need treatments the most. You are like the Hitler of viruses. No – you are the love child from a Pol Pot, Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, Lenin, Stalin gang bang, in a Satin-worshiping orgy masquerading as a NOVEL Sars music love fest in a flowery field of pharmaceuticals. Sorry, I shouldn’t hold back so much.

You wipe me out. I’m exhausted. Literally – it’s day 7 and I still can not put in a full day of work or even think of exercise, sexercise, or going outside without wondering when I will nap. 

Speaking of which, I’m going down for one now. Ten hours from now, when I wake from this nightmare, you’d better be on your way out. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out – oh – and use your elbows or a napkin if you are going to touch the knob, you slob.


Covid Lessons- Chapter 3 Dear Covid- Thank you!

Though I am not happy that you finally caught me, Covid, I wanted to thank you. I know I’ve been elusive. I stopped traveling. I don’t hug with reckless abandon. I revel in staying home, staying in, and not gathering new strangers as friends. I don’t go to bars or crowded movie theaters. I avoid grocery stores because of the awful lighting and because you might be lurking there. Plus, there are other people there. I thought it was my aging, maturity, or being particular that had me enjoying the isolation – but I am finding there are many more reasons I have to thank you for… so…. You got me, thanks.

Dear Covid- Thank you for giving me a reason to not eat the not-chocolate cake that some snot-nosed kid just hard-blew on.

I’m sleeping with you now, Covid. So if you are going to stick around with me and Chris, there are some things you should know. It has taken me 26 years to train Chris- so please study up. I can get bitchy quickly, so the sooner you adapt- the better for all of us, and the cats. Oh, yeah – by the way – thank you for getting in the way of our 25th anniversary – we are going to double down on 30, and every year between, with or without you. You have helped us embrace every special event. We are more mindful. So, take note if you are going to stick around me for this round or another.

  • Coffee is best provided about 10 minutes after I wake up – just in case I drift off – I dislike waking up to cold coffee. It took a few years to have “us” get this right.
  • I shouldn’t have bacon weekly if I’m going to lose weight, but technically I should have it twice a week. You can hide it in breakfast egg sandwiches, in Brussel Sprouts. Use your imagination – talk to Chris if you need suggestions.
  • I need some alone time, sometimes. We both have a meditation, prayer, or mindful practice. Yeah, you have given us a lot of opportunities to be contemplative. Please be sure to provide more. I am certain you will.
  • I like to say we clean the cat box equally – but if you do it slightly more often than I do or like, all the time, I’ll be that much more charming.
  • It is important for you to have three clear options ready for a dinner conversation and prepared for me to have a few opinions upfront and many opinions after you make a decision.
  • It is best for emergency chocolate to be hidden in both easy-to-find locations and ones that evade my desperate searches.
  • If I say I’m going bald and getting fatter, the best answer is to say you love me more now than ever -or to just say nothing and kiss me passionately. Grip my butt for extra points.

Now that I have taught you a few things, Covid, I will pivot to my thanks. I do not want to be part of the chorus of people who only bemoan or lament the ways you’ve changed the world and our lives. There are many things to be thankful for with you around, so I want to focus on that. After all, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy- it comes naturally with my rural New England upbringing. Cold, dirty winters really make us true optimists. [ Footnote – you killed people. For that, fuck you. Oh yeah, fuck you for a bunch of other shit – but this is a thank you letter… ]. For all the good you bring, I thank you for:

  • Enabling me to finish Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime- and though we went to streaming services to save money, you helped us realize we needed a cable package and EVERY streaming service. Without this baseline of comparison, I would not be an informed consumer. Thank you. #streamthedream
  • Thank you for sourdough, gardening, pickling, cocktail shrubs, and mixology- I now have legit survival skills, so in an Armageddon event, I might be let into the bunker. #bunkerskills
  • People now cough into their elbows, if they cough at all – and when they do, I am no longer the only person giving them a dirty look, as though they were killing kittens. #kittenkiller
  • My cloud is not cloudy – I’ve stored, edited, moved, or deleted pictures and documents for my entire digital life now about two or three times. Prior to you, I was digital hoarder -and now my archive is squeaky clean. #killtimesoyoudontkillme
  • You gave me a break from work- mind you, you did that by nearly shuttering a company I spent 12 years of my career building. Give me a break, indeed! I was able to lie in bed and watch all the wonder of the 2020 election. Sure, I had to let all my staff go, but they found work – and you helped me get government assistance, so now I have a 30-year relationship with the SBA. I wanted another mortgage- thanks! #covidrelief?
  • My friends and family all have a unifying conversation and something that can always dominate the room- crowding out unnecessary topics like dreams, travel, aspirations, kids, cats, and democracy. #conversationkiller
  • You did not hold back with me. You went all in. None of that simple cold-like Covid stuff I’ve heard of. Covid, Allergies? Aren’t they same? Not for me – you embraced me with all you have to offer – aches, pains, fatigue, no smell, limited taste- you didn’t hold back. Thanks. I’d yell to (at) you if my throat didn’t feel like you were hot prodding it. You are so generous it makes me dizzy. No, really – with you and because of you, I get dizzy. #coviddizzyqueen
  • We now have a judgement-free reason to decline events, especially if I’m having a down day. Rather than needing to work around the nuances of my mental health maintenance, I can now say I have the sniffles and I might have been exposed to you. #judgenomore
  • Filter me not! Because of you – and conversations about you – we/I can now speak our minds with complete reckless abandon and no regard for feckless facts. Some may have said that I struggle with my filter. Some. Now, however, because of you, Covid – I can lift the filter. Find someone at a gathering annoying? Easy- “Hey, you sound sick (sickening), should you be here? Maybe go home? #covidliberatedmouth

Like me, the list can go on and on and on and on. And on. We saved money on travel. We saved drive space on pictures. We saved money on dress clothes and embraced elastic waistbands. We learned how to save our food with our bodies. Bellies are amazingly expandable storage spaces! We can nap like cats. I was on a global mission to make video conferencing transformative. You did it! Just look at how you changed schools! You finished a life-long career mission in 6 months.

My quarantine with you ends on Monday. You may leave us soon. It’s not our thing- but I didn’t think a threeway with you and Chris would be like this. It’s like having a toddler in the bed with you when you really, as a couple, you should be “alone.” Oh, that toddler wet the bed too. It has not been fun or fabulous. You, Covid are more porcupine than bear- not very cuddly, sorry. Work on that, please. Maybe Phizer can add another mystery ingredient to my next “booster”?

Rumor has it, you will linger as you leave. You return without warning. Thank you for being interested in us- but honestly- it’s time for you to go. #fuckoffcovid


Relationship status: It’s complicated.

Well…. actually it is not. We simply had to ask, “Are we happy? Can we be happy here?”

The cat is out of the bag. We will be moving on now that Chris, Alex and the teams have created a magical destination – we are ready to find something next. Truth is- Chris has been struggling alone for a very, very long time- something pretty posts and pictures do not capture. For the most part, unfortunately, he has been in a system that has made that struggle very lonely- and we see no hope for meaningful change anytime soon.

We count and love the victories – which are many. With the latest covid trends, the stalls in the management overlay getting stratigic things done here (try tying a shoe in Sonoma County with the right permits!!) – Chris is a glorified housekeeper. Granted – the house is amazing – but that’s all there is.

Boo hoo… we are stuck in heaven. As I had climbed my way out of my own depression funk (with the help and support of many others…) it has been gut-wrenching to watch Chris slip into one of his own. How do we know this is right? -The mostly joyful conversation we have had in the last 4 months was one recently where we embraced the uncertainty, decided to trust one another’s guts, and made an exit plan. The terror of the “what ifs” morphed from the excitement of “why not” – and the knowledge that together we can figure it out. If covid sequestered in life-work situations that are unhealthy… what if we just started over? The answer was clear… why not?!

Casa Secoya- it’s complicated. No regrets. We love this project and place- and recently nice people have been coming out of the woodwork to take off the masks, show a covid vaccination and seek friendships. A new crew of friends and family are emerging. I’ve stopped posting and writing about our experiences because for every two joyful encounters, there is one really bad reminder that we are isolated and stuck. It is like eating something tasty that only sometimes gives you an allergic reaction – the best idea is to eat something else. We’re hungry.

Hungry? Nope- not pivoting to another bacon, sourdough (though I have one in the works), tomato or food porn post – we are hungry for work and a living place that provide more balance, more achievable challenges for him (beyond getting the gas or sewer vendors to actaully show up), and more social, intellectual and playful engagement for us. I am so consumed by work and helping here I’m having a hard time maintaing my own mental health practices, let alone help Chris. We are not victims, not complaining, just making choices.

Many, many people have been invested in our happiness, our success and have witnessed this journey with excitement, support and love from near and far. Most do not know the full story, so hence the motivation to post again and with such directness. When do we leave? Soon, but only when the property is ready and when Chris is ready. We’ve not seen his family or most of mine in two years- and our families of choice have been so bunkered down, we find ourselves rebuilding or creating bonds. We are rebuilding on our own terms- opening the sails and letting uncertain winds pull us home, wherever that may be. For me- I’ll be with Mr. Yummy – and home is where the heart is.

Everything else is a bonus when you’ve already been given the prize.


It’s all a matter or perspective.

Feb, 25th 2020: I drive or walk by this warehouse and office building on a very busy street often. It is generally littered with garbage or often the tent spot for a pop-up homeless camp. Most often it is just a convenient spot for plastic garbage and the annoying people with dogs who let them shit freely and then don’t feel obliged to pick it up. As a non dog guardian and someone who detests the putrid smell and warm pate-like consistency of a plastic bag grab, I imaging these people thinking “oh well, this place is a shit-hole already” as they leave it there and praise the pooch like it created the magic of magic of all canine creations. “That’s a good boy” they say as I think “You’re a complete asshole.” I think sometimes I may have used my outside voice in thinking that. What they don’t know is now I get to park near this. It has too often been dry and sunny, so I get to enjoy the smell of dry-grass infused sun-baked doggy doo don’t.

A little perspective….

It annoys me. Well, no actually it pisses me off. This has been pretty easy to do as of late and although the 150 MG of bupropion I take as a daily does a good job of softening the edges, I can still sense it – like it’s ready to burst through at any second. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting.

Unfortunately that has been a theme as of late. I keep company with frustration and anger, anxiety and depression far more regularly now than I have ever done in the recent past. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with my life right now, I have disproportionally let my challenges at work and my failures, mistakes and obstacles get the better of me. The truth of the matter is that I am both on the mend and my life is beautiful. I have the husband of my dreams, I have a family of friends and a friendly family who all (mostly) adore me and would (and do) support me in whatever I need. What do I see sometimes? I see clouds and I smell the dog shit.

I have kept company with depression in the past. Coming out of the closet meant changing a life and relationships I (mostly) loved. I feared losing everyone. I hurt people I cared about. During the AIDS holocaust I watched my new friends die and their long term friends disappear. My family was struck with the unspeakable tragedy of a train-truck wreck (the train always wins) and my parents died as I lived 3000 miles away. Through all of this, I adapted, and grew and recovered. In many of these moments I actually shone the brightest on showed what is truly the best of me. Turning 50 has precipitated another cycle of this abyss throupled with my running injuries and two near bankruptcy events in my company. It’s all been a bit much and my mental bones are not nearly as flexible these days as they once were. While I know I will survive this one too, that I will come out stronger again, once I pepper a little social awareness of the systemic challenges we face with a bit of political pessimism I get from the death of our democracy, flashing to sadness, anger, anxiety, and depression is not so far a journey to take.

Perspective. This brings me back from the cliff and abyss. Sure, I don’t love turning 50 and do please note – offering your stories of how turning 50 wasn’t so bad or that I should wait until I’m 60 is not nearly as helpful as one might think it is. Actually, it’s not helpful at all. I love that you had your journey, I am attempting to understand mine. Perspective. I am a better me because of my bumps and bruises. My scar tissues show texture and I have a loving family that soothes all sores. I’m busting my ass at work and my team and our business partners are helping us thrive. 2020 is truly looking up! But in the distance, around the corner, in that pack of grass I just KNOW I’ll smell dog shit. I’m probably going to step in it.

I walked the block today in a break between meetings. That is, actually, I extended the near nano second break I typically have between double-booked back to back meetings and walked a block. It was a beautiful day. It was breezy, sunny and spring blooms are filling the air. I’m trying to do that more often. I’m taking a break. I am trying to chill out. I am trying to tell myself that I’m at least worth a walk around one block.

Emeryville does a pretty good job cleaning up our main streets. Shit spot parking lot was cleaned up recently so as I approached it, I saw a patch of California poppies, our state flower. They are bold. They are bright. They are the first sign of spring and of warmth, of growth and of new life. The cynic in me will argue that they are fleeting, that they are gone quickly and that they will be a weed-trap for plastic bags inside of a month, but for now they are beautiful. OK, I’ll say it. They make me happy. I love them. I recall how amazed they made me during my first California spring. I remember how my mother tried to pick them -(the petals fall off nearly instantly- they absolutely suck as cut flowers and are meant, like many things, to be admired and left alone) -and how she was saddened, but tried another bunch. It was like she believed she had picked the wrong ones and just needed to try again. I love them. They make me HAPPY. I need to keep saying that out loud. Perspective. If that’s all they do, it’s enough.

The patch of grass was nice today. It was clean, ish. The air was fresh. If there was pooch poo, the ground was wet enough and the breeze swift enough that I had no clue. I squatted for a poppy infused selfie and texted it to Chris. I said it was pretty and he replied that I was too. I’m dealing with depression, but I am happy. Tomorrow I’m going to walk two blocks instead of one.

Mindfulness Mediations With Marylee

“Drop-in”  Meditation with Marylee

 Tuesdays 4:45 pm – 6:00 pm PDT via Zoom

                          August 9, 16, 23, 30 & September 6, 13, 20 

Hello- My dear friend Marylee is offering this session – if you have even remotely been interested in the power of Mindfulness, I’d encourage you to join one of these or all of these sessions.

You’re invited! I hope you can join me and other friends for some well-deserved, time-out-of-time calm and meditation. Beginning on August 9, 2022, I will offer seven online  “drop-in” meditation gatherings on Tuesday afternoons from 4:45 – 6:00 pm PDT. There is no cost and anyone is welcome to attend regardless of prior meditation experience. Feel free to attend any or all of the gatherings. There is no need to register in advance, just send an email to this email and I will send you the Zoom link.  mleecabrera@gmail.com

Each drop-in meditation gathering will include a 20 – 25 minute lightly guided meditation followed by a 20-minute talk on topics such as mindfulness of breath and body, mindfulness of thoughts and beliefs, mindfulness of emotions, and the heart practices of loving-kindness and compassion. The final portion of each gathering will be dedicated to discussion, questions, and sharing experiences and suggestions for establishing a regular meditation practice and bringing mindfulness into your daily life. Please note that the guided meditation will begin promptly at 5:00 pm. 

This offering fulfills the second practicum requirement for my Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP), a two-year course taught by Insight Meditation teachers, Jack Kornfield, PhD and Tara Brach, PhD in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center. After the final session in September, I’ll email each participant a short feedback form. Thank you to all the participants in the first practicum course conducted last spring. The suggestions and feedback you provided were extremely helpful in the design of this offering.. 

Please help me spread the word by sharing this email invitation with friends who may be interested in participating. Please respond to: mleecabrera@gmail.com and simply write “Zoom Link” in the subject line; I’ll respond promptly with the link. If you have any other questions about the drop-in meditation gatherings, don’t hesitate to contact me. Stay well and I look forward to seeing you soon.



2017 Repost – Off to Barcelona! Capstone

Day 13 – it started with a short run along the harbor in Cadaques. Damn, I wish I could say that every day. We then had lunch at a place that had matched the wonder of a slow, leisurely Spanish lunch with the persuasion of manicured, proud French cooking. The view was stunning, the food good and the pace emphasized the vacation part of the “vacation lunch”- we were tapping a foot to get on the road to meet our AirBNB host in Barcelona. Poor us! Thanks to all of you who prayed for us in our suffering.

Barcelona: Such a gem. Chris found an amazing rental in the center of the old Gothic city center, Bari Gothic. We could live here.

It has creates a bit of a war of wills. One of our wishes is to find a quieter more rural pace where we can run the business, have a yard and grow food. The other is to merge into the noise and grind of a magical city like NY, SF, Paris, London, and Barcelona. Paper, rock, scissors- here we go! Decision by RoShamBo!

Our host suggested a dinner spot that sadly couldn’t exist in the US. It is designed so seating is just barely one seat deep along the bar. There are four sets of doors where you can choose a spot along the bar to enter and a few bays of seating on each end. On warm nights and days, the doors would be swung open so patrons could spill out on the street, netting passerbyes. The process of moving from one end of the bar to the other includes either popping out in the street and entering through another door or bumping your way along the wall and the other patrons.  Sound horrible?Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 1.39.26 AM

Quite the opposite! And they have Fois Gras.  And Steak.  And Padrons.  If I was asked for a last meal of choice, this would be it.

The pictures may not look like much, but they seer a steak perfectly and smother it with flash-fried Fois Gras and butter sautéed onions. It is a magical heart attack on the plate. The bartender serving us took a shine to us – seemingly motivated by our desire to have the steak “rare” – which is harder to order in broken Spanish than you would think.  We chased our dinner with a small cervasa and a shot of Oruho- a typical digestive (which the bartender decided to double) – and a walk around Barcelona.

Our other plans- the Mercat, La Rambla, Sagrada Familia, The Catalan Museum, see a friend and sleep in. I’ll rent a bike to explore, go for a run or two and smother myself in more Fois and olive oil.


2017 Repost – Day 12 of 17- Sunday Simple- Cadequez in love.

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.


Stress? Some of it is work. The business is strong. My team is awesome. Yet we are always threadbare, 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 dreams. 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 quiet is wonderful. Granted it is far less dramatic and terrorizing and fanciful, but it is WONDERFUL.

My facts. If all hell broke loose, 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.


2017 Repost – It’s simple and magical. Days 10, 11 of 17.

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 detailed 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 Cadaques 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 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 ex-pat in me.


This market is amazing. We could live in Ceret- and (shocker alert!) we talked to a chocolatier about life in the region. He (an ex-pat from London) and his wife (ex-pat from Belgium) have moved to a nearby village that was the Catalan center of the 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 than 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 wandered our way back via the coast and came back to Cadaques for a lunch of gathered items from the market. Yeah, Jamon – a big chunk of it, we now own a made-in-France farmer’s knife (with a built-in corkscrew!) 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 seem 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 ex-pat virus at Cafe De La Habana. The owner at La Serena suggested we nightcap 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 booze-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 the 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 crowded 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.


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.



2017 Repost – Ode to a dead drone: Days 6 – 9

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



2017 Repost – Day 5 of 17 looking back- Marathon “Bliss?” – Yeah, no. But it was AWESOME!

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 thought 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.

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!


2017 Repost- 4 of 17: Smother me in pig fat. Please.

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.  Meanwhile Chris found yet another AirBnB dump.


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.

2017 Repost- Day 3 of 17- It’s all about ME! … and I need a benefactor.

Friday started with a slow and sweet wrap-up to our short time in Mahon. The island is sweet and stunning and with 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 possibly 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 it has 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 of leisure. Yep, there it is. While I am not lazy it occurs to me that I am a better version of myself 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 misread or that she overstated, 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 creates them. I am aware of how this has happened in the world of Facebook yet it 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 selfies and fewer F-OFFs 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 Iberico 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 winner’s podium too. Hey, a chobbit can dream.

2017 Repost- Day 2 of 17 – Claiming my space.

36 hours in and I am already down the path of self-reflection.  Does vacation do that to you?  I am questioning where I live, how much I work, and what I can do to reclaim a sense of balance. Step one- I should probably avoid the spike in these thoughts due to pushing them aside until I am on vacation.

I am resolving to get back to my artwork. I still want to learn Spanish. We still want to live somewhere we have access to gardening. I would still like to live near to my biological family. We still want to live in Europe. And yet where I live is lovely and the life I have need not change in order for me to be happy. Is there such a thing as happy AND unsettled? Restless-bliss? A first-world problem indeed.

Day two – mostly jet-lag recovery and a stunning bus trip to Ciutadella- a quaint harbor town on the other side of Menorca. Our base in Mahon has been calming. It’s off-season so there are no crowds, the town is sleepy and in a short afternoon we are able to walk the entire circumference.

We tend to make big decisions on trips like this. Often it starts with a conversation about where we travel to NEXT year and circles around to what we think about our life, career, friends, and the quality time we spend. This time around we have stated to each other that adopting a child is not a viable option nor a pursuit we are going to take on actively. it feels like that ship sailed some time ago and that reality steadies our resolve to be passionate uncles and to push ourselves to continually grow and contribute to the growth of others where we can.

I’ll find time to resurrect the drone and see if I can fix it. I’ve been tentative with the selfie stick only because I fear the looks and we are off to such a great start, I’m not sure getting whacked by a hello-kitty stick would make this trip better.

Repost/Move: Spain Again! Day 1 of 17: The business of travel.

Moving content—

2017 -Spain Again!

… And we’re off. Spain again -our 21st year, my 21st Marathon, and a cap-stone to celebrating Chris at 50. We are going to be nearly 20 hours in transit (we are not there yet) but I’ve discovered the benefits of my Amex Platinum account and the comforts of VIP airport lounges.

It has taken me 47 years but I was able to check into the lounge at the Oakland airport and now here in Barcelona and was able to resist the urge to fill my pockets with sugar packets, extra foodstuffs and just about anything not nailed down. Perhaps the recent visit with my family of origin triggered my latent hoarder tendencies (my dead mother would be proud). I don’t know. What I do know is Chris is pleased I’m not filling my water bottle with the self-serve booze from the lounge bar.

I’ve been stressed by work lately. The business gave me these benefits. I am aware that the business of these benefits do have a cost. The real question for me as I start to push towards 50 is whether or not the price I’m paying is too high?

Meanwhile, I think I have spotted a dish that would fit nicely in my man bag. It will join the collection of a mom-inspired, clepto-captured dish and glassware my home has not collected. I’m off to collect.